Hong Kong in the streets
Before we get to the show, the show that was full disclosure made by a whole team of people. There is a nifty new tool out there to help you make your dream show your podcast without the whole team. It it'll smooth out the recording and production process so you can focus on the art of storytelling. It's called sound trap for storytellers, visit sound, trap dot com slash storytellers to learn more. That is right. Sound, trap dot com slash storytellers. Get trapped. To Hong Kong now where this was the scene short time ago as riot police choose pepper spray, tear gas and rubber bullets to hold back. A surge protesters tried to storm the territory's main government complex. Demonstration has delayed debate on controversial extradition law. It's shared the Bill could allow suspects to be sent to me, non China for trial Bill many see as a power grab by China and the threat to their semi special. Thomas status protests have been ongoing since Sunday when a million people took to the streets, Twix price their anger. That's no hope. But still to continue the fight. I guess the Beijing government and. Sure. Matt rivers. You're an international correspondent for CNN the Cable News Network covering the protests from Hong Kong where are you right now? So currently I'm in the shadow of the legislative council building, which is kind of the main government building here in Hong Kong. And it's it's kind of been ground zero for the massive protests that we've seen since Sunday here. Yeah. What what's it been? Like since Sunday, what's been happening outside that building? Yeah, I mean, it it's been chaotic in Hong Kong to say the least it started kind of on Sunday. When there was, if you believe the numbers from organizers over a million people marching out in the streets, largely peaceful on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, went by with smaller protests. But then Wednesday yesterday, it really picked up where there was tens of thousands of people outside of what's called the ledge co building legislative council. They, they gathered outside of ledge co because that's when the legislators were set to debate this really controversial extradition, Bill, that is the kind of impetus for these protests, and they were out there peacefully. For maybe five six hours, something like that. And then the tear gas started, and then things got a lot more violent. How did it end? Well, so, basically yesterday, there was kind of a standoff, so right around four o'clock. Police say that they were charged by protesters with weapons. Protesters counter that and say the police got jumpy and overreacted. But there was kind of pitched battles for about two to three hours in the streets where you saw thousands of police officers versus thousands of protesters and the police tried to push back. The protesters will get them away from the main government building and push them more towards central Hong Kong kind of right in the middle of the financial district of Hong Kong, and they used everything at their disposal really non lethal weapons. So you're talking about pellet guns. You're talking about rubber bullets? You're talking about mainly tear-gas dozens of tear-gas cannisters were fired, and it got pretty violent. There was at least eighty injured. Including a couple of serious injuries, and they kind of pushed to this one section of central Hong Kong, and it was a standoff. And a lot of us were quite nervous that it was going to be really bad. Because in that area, the streets are quite narrow, and there wouldn't be really a lot of places for protesters to go if it got more violent, but thankfully, after about six or seven hour standoff protesters started to disperse on their own. I think kind of thinking we're going to fight this battle another day and the police to their credit also left and so, by the early morning hours of Thursday after what looked like it could get really violent, you know, violent day kind of ended a lot better, a lot more peacefully than most people were expecting this isn't the first protests. We've seen that Hong Kong in recent years. How do these actions this week differ from the ones we've seen before there's been a lot of protests in Hong Kong, most notably recently in two thousand fourteen when you saw pro democracy protests, called occupy, Hong Kong, but those protests, not only were they smaller than the ones now but. Were largely made up of young liberal university students. But what you see now and what you saw, let's say last Sunday when a million people showed up and what you could see again. This Sunday is a more cross sectional buying of, of the Hong Kong citizenry now, you've got business people who are worried that, you know, this extradition law isn't just about human rights. Let's say that, you know, you're a foreigner, let's say you're English or you're American and you're here studying or you're here working in Hong Kong. Let's say you commit some sort of an offense that Beijing is not happy about, well, you too could be extradited to China, and what the business community here. Worries about is that, that could make Hong Kong, a less attractive place for foreign direct investment for large multinational companies to come the Hong Kong instead of shop here as they've done for decades. This is long been the gateway to China to mainland China, but without the Chinese legal system, which is notoriously opaque and petty. And so, the business community here doesn't like this Bill. And so that's what. Protesters would say is look, maybe we've got a chance that we didn't have before, because it's not just a bunch of twenty year olds who are protesting, it's a wider cross section of the community, but even with the potential of the business community buying in here. This isn't really going anywhere as of now. No. This fight is far from over. Basically, it all has to do with this extradition Bill, which is still working its way through the legislative council. So just to kind of back up a little bit. The extradition. Bill was first introduced or announced back in February of this year and kind of introduced, formerly into the legislature and April and without getting too much into the weeds, basically would allow Hong Kong to extradite suspects, certain kinds of crimes to other places namely mainland China, so Hong Kong is technically a part of China, but it was handed over back to China in nineteen Ninety-seven seven by the British, and there was a fifty year deal that was kinda put in place that'll end in twenty forty seven we're Hong Kong was basically. Allowed to keep a lot of the democratic rights that it had had under British rule. So you're talking about freedom of expression of the press they're judicial system, their on immigration system. And that's kind of been a pillar of Hong Kong and what we've seen over the last couple of years is kind of Beijing taking certain steps to try and a road. Some of those democratic freedoms in this extradition. Bill is looked at as kind of just the latest attempt of that what critics say is that if you take if you push for with his extradition Bill, Beijing could request the extradition of anybody that it wants. So sure they could ask for murder suspects, but they could also ask for, you know, judicial activists or democracy activists or journalists or human rights activists. Beijing, critics say, could just basically say you know what we don't like that person for political reasons, and we want them extradited, and now they would have the legal cover to do so, and so that's kind of the main gripe that, that protesters have and so now bringing it back to now. Now, this Bill was debated, it was supposed to be debated on Wednesday. And again, today Thursday, except that got canceled because of these protests, we know Friday, there's not going to be any more debate on this, and it pushes it into next week to temporary win for protesters, but where it ends, whether this Bill actually gets passed, you know, we're not we're not sure as of yet, but there's definitely more protests to come. Why is this extradition Bill being debated now? Where did it come from? I mean Hong Kong's had its political status since the late nineties, right? Kinda depends on who you ask what the Hong Kong government and the leader of the Hong Kong government is a woman named Kari lamb. She's the chief executive here, and this Bill, according to her comes about after the murder of a pregnant woman by her Hong Kong boyfriend when they were both in Taiwan, so he kills her has since admitted to killing her. He leaves Taiwan comes back here to Hong Kong, but due to extradition law, he can't be sent back. To Taiwan to face trial, but he also can't face trial here in Hong Kong because Hong Kong courts, have no jurisdiction to try crimes that were committed in Taiwan. So what Hong Kong government is saying, is well, we don't want Hong Kong to become a haven for fugitives. And so they're trying to get this, this Bill passed now there's a lot of people here that would say okay, that's one very specific case. It's terrible. It should not have happened. However, that doesn't necessarily justify opening up extradition laws beyond just to Taiwan, but also mainland China, and there was no reason to do this extradition, Bill right now. And this is just Hong Kong government doing what Beijing wants it to. So that's where the, the critics really come in here. But regardless of the reasoning this extradition Bill is moving through the system right now. And it has a really good chance of getting passed alternately. The protesters here can do and say and make a big fuss as they want to, but ultimately. What most people understand is that Carrie Lam, the chief executive has the numbers inside the legislative council to ultimately get this thing passed if she can get the council, actually in session, and one more kind of difference that Hong Kong has from mainland. China will go away. I'm sure you're talking to these protesters. Do you think they're aware of the potential futility of these massive actions? Absolutely. I mean they know what they're up against and I think that they would say you know what? So what this is our city and it's worth fighting for the beliefs that we have. And if there's even the slightest chance that they can cause lawmakers to back away from this Bill in create enough pressure on the chief executive to repeal this Bill, then it's worth doing. So Mr. I was born and raised in Hong Kong. We went out to the strike trying to stop the government to pasta, extradition Bill, 'cause we know that it's all like very core of Hong Kong. So we tried to stop them. I get below pas. Because like that legal system is pretty much out only thing left in Hong Kong, which is not influenced by China now under the one country, two system, the rule. So we're trying to, like, stop our last, you know, like line defending out loss or. We have the Chinese Scotsman, because we know what they can do, like look at China, they can block every day. So you don't have any freedom of speech freedom. As in knowing stuff, like blocking all the Google news anything like trust freedom. Soul, we, we just want out rights, 'cause we got promise this one country, two system. So it's not even twenty five years, yet, I guess from nineteen ninety seven, so he's not even half, but we already facing a law issues because of China. So we are losing our freedom step by step. As I said, lightens, the endgame of Hongkong if this past, we are just China. after the break. Why so many in Hong Kong want to void becoming just China? Go on Facebook on Twitter dot com, and you see all the people going. Hey, I'm taking a long drive this weekend. Anyone got any podcast recommendations or books on tape? Here's one for all those people. There's this podcast called this land. It comes from the crooked media people behind pods. Save America and all the rest. This podcast is a series about a murder case in front of the supreme court. It involves tribal sovereignty, America's broken promises. It's hosted by someone named Rebecca Nagel. She's an Oklahoma, journalist and a citizen of the Cherokee nation, the podcast, gives you this depth. Look at how a cut and dry murder opened up an investigation into half the land in Oklahoma and the treaty rights of five tribes, a whole lot steak. The Trump administration gets involved in this one case could result in the largest restoration of tribal land in the history of the United States. The episodes are all out now. You can subscribe. This land wherever you get your podcasts. My name's Elliott Chen, and I may be journalist based in London, I am spent some time growing up in Hong Kong. And I worked as Hong Kong correspondent, for a while as well as someone who grew up there and has worked as a correspondent there as well. What do you think is most important for people who have never been to Hong Kong Noverre little about it to understand about these protests that are happening there right now? Well, I think it's a reflection of the fact that Hong Kong isn't just any other Chinese city. It's a special administrative territory and China where it has its own legal system, its own borders, and unlike mainland China has the right to protest and the right to free speech. And a lot of these inherited from the fact that Hong Kong used to be a British colony which is why they inherited the legal system and certain rights and freedoms, and the reason people are protesting now is because they feel that's being encroached on by this legislation that would allow him extraditions from Hong Kong to mainland China, China, was specifically. Excluded from Hong Kong's, extradition. Arrangements before partly because people drafting legislation didn't trust him. China's legal system and court system and it seems like most of the protesters think that still the case, and they do not want to see people in Hong Kong being sent to mainland China. They think that's quite dangerous and encroachment on what makes Hong Kong Special. How did Hong Kong get to be special? Can you give us sort of the brief history here? Part of Hong Kong. Hong Kong island was given to the British after the first opium war. So this was way back in eighteen forty two. And then several years later in eighteen ninety eight China, least impart of Hong Kong, the new territories for nine thousand nine years to the pressures as well. Which is why am for more than one hundred fifty years. Hong Kong has been in some way, or form a British colony where it was under British rule, and it had him different legal systems. The British empire was huge. So it wasn't. It's only colony abroad, but the British did call it the Pearl of the orient, and we know Hong Kong became quite an important trading hub and its economy took off in the nineteen fifties as well. And it became a manufacturing hub, so certainly it was considered a important part of the British empire and probably one that Bush empire were quite proud of having. In Hong Kong, did nurses that this is in the morning. Dictated their letters that anyway after Hong Kong club in had several gin and tonics more than several sometimes in the one thousand nine hundred to be coming close to nine thousand nine year deadline, which was the least for the new territories, and the British and Chinese started negotiations, but China made it quite clear that it will sort all of Hong Kong should be returned to Chinese rule. So not just the new territories, and it didn't want him to consider the prospect of extending the lease so given that at that point in China was a rising power, and it had him well, I guess it had more negotiating power, the two sides, eventually agreed that they would return Hong Kong to Chinese rule after nineteen Ninety-seven Wendy lease was up. These negotiations lead up to the nineteen Ninety-seven hanged over, and I remember it quite well because I was a kid living in Hong Kong at the time. So as a kid, you don't particularly follow politics. But in the run-up, or even a year before I remembered some of my friends that were emigrating will go into Canada now. And it's because parents were worried about what life would be like unto Chinese rule, and I actually sang in the handover ceremony since I was in this children's choir that was take part in the Senate rations at the. I think the lyrics went along the lines of. The rays of July are shining on Hong Kong because handover was on the first of July and then it goes the pride of the handover will always be in my heart, so tell patriotic pets slightly cheese. Knicks. I'm just remember that you had to get really early in the morning and was a rainy day. And there were sandwiches. We had breakfast, which quite disgusting. So that was the stuff that stunk it was Queen Victoria, who ruled when Britain, sees Tom com. Tonight's descendant helped to give it back. Unprecedented though, this moment in history may be. We have the utmost confidence in the abilities, and resilience of the Hong Kong people. Britain learned long ago that Hong Kong, people know best what is good for Hong Kong. China. This was a moment of pride for their leaders and end to what they call age of shame and humiliation. For many Hong Kong's return to China is cause for great joy for others. Great concern, the flame of the Walker soon be knighted in Hong Kong. Whole looking. Left democracy. In fact, most people in the colony didn't even go to the celebrations, they were at home. Route shopping still working in some cases, sometimes celebrations on television were simply ignored eighty. I've been under British rule for more than a century. He says, I'm happy, they're gone. But I've got to go to work. So what happens with the handover after the handover ceremonies? I think a lot of people in Hong Kong. They weren't any immediate changes. So life did go on, and it seemed like it definitely felt like a different system from mainland China also at various points. People were always nervous about any prospect of change. And then there was a big flash point in two thousand three when the government in Hong Kong tried to introduce national security legislation. And to the some of our key freedoms pressured him religious, read him and the freedom of socio. I think clear whenever there's similar things like can't legislation, certain rulings from China that really bothers people, and they always question, whether, you know, one country, two systems is under threat, but I think it's become particularly apparent in the last decade or so, where people have been a more and more worried, what has the relationship between China and Hong Kong been like since the handover has China held up its side of the bargain the onset probably depends on who you talk to. So a lot of pro-beijing parties or the Hong Kong government would say China has held up at side of the agreement. And if you look at the go facts, you know, in, in many aspects life in Hong Kong hasn't changed that much, and it does have quite a lot of autonomy. But on the other hand, critics from the Hong Kong government, or the Chinese government point out, under the basic law, which is Hong Kong's mini constitution that got agreed as part of the handover the basic loss of that Hong Kong should eventually able to elected chief executive. In a more democratic way, but refunds for that never quite worked out and similarly with Hong Kong's rights and freedoms, a lot of people would argue that they have been deteriorating to some extent, such knee. That's what some survey suggest the perception is. So I guess, at this point, how different is life in Hong Kong, from inland, China. Well, some things are quite similar. So you'd say you know, it's an Asian city decent transport and decent food, and culturally. They'll be interested in a lot of the same things, but there are some really specific differences. For example, if you're young person in Hong Kong, you can get on Facebook, and what Sam just fine. If you're a young person in China, you would need a virtual private network to be able to get on at all. And I suppose the expectation of privacy of censorship, will be different. If you're posting on social media, in China, you know, that there's an army of people that are paid to search social media sites and delete anything sensitive. Whereas in Hong Kong, you don't get the same. Social political censorship in any case similarly, if you're a young person in Hong Kong will anyone in Hong Kong, you know, based on the news, you're reading that the newspapers there, they might have business interests, or they might self-censor bit. But the press is generally considered free. Whereas if you're looking at the media in mainland, China, a lot of people are more cynical about it, because they know of state-owned media, there were certain things they can and can't say the restrictions are lot clearer. And how do people in Hong Kong identified, do they feel Chinese? Do they feel British to feel neither both? The really interesting thing about how people in Hong Kong identify is a majority of them will be ethnic Chinese, but they don't identify as Chinese, and we know this, because the university of Hong Kong dozen surveys, quite regularly, and it turns out most people would call themselves Hong Kong but only fifteen percent would call themselves Chinese and with young people, the differences, even Stocker one survey in twenty seventeenth suggested that only three percent of people aged between eighteen and twenty nine co themselves Chinese, and I think that's because a lot of people in Hong Kong, they feel like as a former colony with its own system. They have different culture. They always complain about tourist for mainland China queuing, for example. So british. Yes, I suppose it is. And suppose there has been a lot of resentment towards certain people from mainland China in recent years. There's some complaints about tourists buying milk, powder, or just being rude, and general, and I think, for a lot of Hong Kong find it more personal because they know that from the same country but they also feel very different. China will emphasize the fact that Hong Kong's part of China in it's one country. Overall and government probably thinks Kong, people should be a bit more respectful towards it. They probably do like the fact that people always criticizing it, and holding protests about it. But I'm China would also argue that one country two systems is working quite well, because they would always say, then not interfering in Hong Kong's, business, and ultimately Hong Kong still, has a lot of freedom. So that would be the position, China takes. And how does China feel about the protests? Well, when Hong Kong's quite traditional protests. In fact, I remember one local journalist sit in protesting in the DNA over lots of people in Hong Kong, the protests happening right now of particularly interesting because a lot of people do think that the most violent protests, we've seen since nineteen Ninety-seven when at the same time, Hong Kong seems to be deploying riot police more quickly, who are more set on clearing the scene as quickly as possible as well suggests than the two sides becoming more confrontational and show. China will be watching this really closely deciding what to do next as someone who is. They're singing in the choir in nineteen ninety seven and two grew up in Hong Kong. How do you feel watching stuff like this happened there? That's a good question. That me think, how to answer that, since the BBC journalist meant to express personal views, I kind of knew. But I had to ask anyway. I'm sorry. No, I have enough. I mean, is there an answer to that question that you can offer without weighing in on how you feel about the protests? I mean, this is something that you're personally connected to. That's, that's why I have to ask n let me think. I think what's on the minds of a lot of people in Hong Kong right now is should I still stay here? Because in the last couple of years, a lot of people do talk about should I immigrate isn't safe to stay in Hong Kong Orem, or other people. Conversely, think these protesters, wrecking the economy that's terrible. So I guess as a person from Hong Kong, I'd see what I can understand why a lot of people feel cautious or quite worried about the turn of events. Hellier Chung is a reporter for the BBC. Matt rivers is a reporter for CNN. I'm Sean Ramos, this is explained from veto X, the team is comprised of Irene Noguchi, British McCarthy, fem-, Sapiro, onnell Saadi, Halima Shah. And Noam hasn't felt this week. We had extra help from miles, Brian, and Chilean Weinberger, our interns, or Alex Panya and will read and the mysterious brake master cylinder is our favorite band. Today explained is produced in association with Stitcher. And we are part of the vox, media podcast.